Title: Twos and Blues: 23/?
Rating: R - N/C-17 overall, adult concepts, occasional language, M/M
Pairings/Characters: Jack/Ianto, [past]Jack/John, Tosh/Owen, Gwen/Rhys, Andy, Gareth, Harris, Nick, Pete, Mica, Rhiannion
Spoilers – none – totally AU
Warnings: angst amongst the smut/fluff!
Summary: Jack is the Station Commander of a retained* fire station. This is the story of their adventures. Words: this chapter 4160
Previous chapters: http://zazajb.livejournal.com/6286.html
Disclaimer: I own none of the characters – anything you recognise is owned by RTD & BBC, even if they don’t know how to look after them properly...
With thanks to the wonderful fjorda77 for the awesome banner *hugs*
A/N So, I’ve finally gone completely AU...new departure for me – thank you for all the comments so far...and please excuse the liberties I’m taking with Welsh geography! Updates will now be posted to both LJ and DW
A/N1 Retained stations are crewed by part-time firefighters who live and work locally, responding to a bleeper signal when the fire appliance is needed – in all other respects they are the same as whole-time firefighters... SWFRS= South Wales Fire and Rescue Service PDA= pre-determined attendance [the minimum number of appliances sent to a particular premises no matter what the call]
A/N2 So, NY was amazing and I loved it... xxx
Cross posted so you might get this more than once – sorry!
Twos and Blues 23/?
His breathing under control again, Ianto scrubbed at his face, brushing the tear tracks away. Jack was his man and he was going to damn well fight for him. He pushed himself to his feet and strode purposefully back through to the shop where he made himself a fresh mug of Jack’s @Yanno blend, controlling his trembling hands fiercely.
He glanced at the clock. It was almost time for Rhi and Sue to arrive and there was no way they were going to see him like this – Rhi would grill him to within an inch of his life and he’d fold, just like he’d always done when they were kids, and then she’d go gunning for Jack...and if anyone was going to tear him off a strip then it’s going to be me he thought grimly. He unlocked the back door and scribbled a quick note which he left on the worktop so the ladies would find it if they turned up before he’d composed himself enough to face the world.
Racing up the stairs, he went into the bathroom and dragged out his entire range of HIM...he was going to need every one of its magical touches this morning... and by the time he’d cleansed, moisturised and refreshed with the cool eye roll-on he looked passably human again, if a little jaded around the edges...
Before heading back to the lion pit and his sister’s eagle-eyed scrutiny – she knew him so well she could detect an untruth from him at five hundred paces! – he pulled his phone out and rang Jack again. This time it rang almost into answer-phone before it was answered – no voice, just silence. Ianto waited for Jack to speak, his heart sinking when he realised that it wasn’t going to happen and he’d just opened his mouth to plead with his Captain when the line went dead. Jack...or whoever had the phone...had hung up.
He squared his shoulders and pressed recall. The ringing sounded twice before it was answered, again with silence “Jack...please...talk to me...make me understand...please...” he kept his voice low and controlled, a hint of steel creeping in as he fought the urge to demand answers from the man he loved with his entire being, who was currently intent on smashing his heart into a million pieces...
A muffled sob echoed down the line before an anguished whisper that sounded totally unlike Jack’s usual buoyant self “I can’t...I’m so sorry Yanno...” the line went dead. Blinking back the fresh tears that threatened to fall, he pressed recall again. It rang several times before going into answer-phone. Conversation – such as it had been – was over for now.
Taking a deep breath, Ianto bit his lip hard and started down the stairs towards the sound of Sue and Rhi’s cheerful chattering. If ever there was a time for an Oscar-winning performance, he told himself, it was now!
“Morning! Sorry...another shout in the middle of the night...big one too, Jack’s still not back...” he allowed himself to be pulled into a hug by his sister.
“Poor Jack...I heard about the fire on the radio...give him our love when you talk to him, okay?” Rhi spoke softly into his ear, releasing him to gaze intently at his drawn face, despite the restorative wonders of HIM... “you look terrible!”
“Thanks sis, you know how to flatter a bloke! I’m completely knackered...didn’t get much sleep before the shout...y’know..!” he forced a grin and turned away, winking at Sue who was tipping bags of change into the till. He’d gauged that any hint of sex talk and they’d back off...he was right!
Rhi screwed her face up ‘that’s quite enough of that, thank you!” She turned and dropped the lightly toasted bagels onto the breadboard, spreading them thickly with cream cheese and piling them up on a serving plate. She nudged Ianto towards the shop. “Coffee?”
“Oh, yeah! Course!!!” he walked through to the coffee machine to start the ladies’ drinks. Two mugs later, he was sat at a table as the three of them all tucked in to their breakfast. It was strange and quiet without Jack’s larger-than-life presence and infectious laugh and there were moments when he felt it was unbearable, calling on reserves of self control he never knew he had to stop himself breaking down and blurting it out...
The day began in earnest as they opened the doors and the regulars streamed in, Pete not among them today, much to Ianto’s disappointment...although he had both Pete’s and Nick’s numbers he didn’t want to call them just yet, if they came in he would ask casually, but until then...
The CCTV firm arrived to add to the general chaos of his day, although they were very efficient and didn’t require any input from him – Jack had briefed them, paid them and all it demanded from @Yanno was two coffees, one slice of fruit cake and a couple of giant cookies. The whole thing was done in a couple of hours with minimal disruption to his customers...despite his mental state, Ianto was impressed and sent them on their way with another take-out coffee each and a bag of Welsh cakes.
He ran up to the flat in a brief lull in the queue, dialling Jack’s office this time. His call was answered by Cally, Jack’s secretary. “Oh, hello Ianto! No, Jack’s not called in yet, but he never works today and Gav’s taken the day off as well...but I’m sure he told you that anyway... Is there a message I can give him for you?”
Ianto grimaced, whatever was going on, other people knew about it. “No, thanks, Cally...I’ll catch up with him when he gets back from the station...” He said goodbye and hung up, trying Jack’s mobile again. It went straight into the message service without ringing, obviously now turned off. Frustration, hurt and despair swirled in his head and he bit back the sobs, biting down hard on his lip until he tasted the coppery tang of blood. Sighing heavily, he went back downstairs to find he had a fresh queue of customers waiting.
It was the longest day in existence and he endured it in agonising slow motion, smiling and joking as if all was right with the world when all he wanted to do was scream and smash something...or someone perhaps? Rhi caught him gazing wistfully at his phone as the lunchtime rush began to ease, making him jump as she touched his arm “nothing from Jack yet?”
Steeling himself to hold it together, Ianto shook his head “he’ll have gone back to his place to get some sleep. I’ll see him there after we close...” he managed a tiny smile, laying his hand over his sister’s. “He’ll be fine...” He turned away abruptly as the tears rushed, unbidden, to his eyes and he reached under the counter to start refilling his mug trays, desperately willing Rhi to go back to the kitchen so he could rein in the churning emotions that were threatening to explode through the thin facade....
Fortunately Sue came to his rescue with a tray full of dirty crockery from where she was clearing tables, Rhi taking it from her and disappearing back out to the dishwasher. Sue leant across the counter, her voice soft “he’ll be okay, Ianto...he has you...” she paused, “I know it’s been hard for you today...and don’t think you’re fooling Rhi, either, so let’s get this place sparkling so you can shoot over there as soon as we close...”
Ianto nodded mutely, knowing he’d crumble if he said anything. Sue smiled and picked up another tray for the few remaining mugs before joining Rhi in the kitchen. Ianto restocked the various holders with napkins, spoons and sugar, serving the few customers who came in as they edged ever closer to their half past two closing time.
His back was to the door when it opened with just minutes to spare, and he mentally cursed the unseen customer coming this close to closing when he wanted a swift getaway. Schooling his tense features into something resembling a smile, he turned, almost screaming with relief at Tosh’s lovely face in front of him.
She took one look at him and pulled him in for a hug, holding him tightly without the need for words. Ianto clung on, knowing that Tosh could feel him trembling, and he didn’t need to explain anything...
Tosh released him when Rhi and Sue reappeared, pushing him gently towards the door so he could close the shop and regain control of his wayward emotions. He smiled gratefully at her as she walked towards the ladies with her hand outstretched. “I’m Tosh...I don’t think we’ve been formally introduced – unless you count the rabble group we were yesterday! I’m Ianto’s Auntie...” she grinned at their confused expressions “I’ll be looking after Ianto’s training and general welfare at the fire station – every new recruit has an Auntie who is usually a junior officer, or a long serving, experienced firefighter...”
She shook hands with each of them, smiling at Rhi “with a sister and an Auntie, I think we can keep him in line don’t you?” winking as Rhi burst out laughing.
“Oh, definitely!” she nodded at Ianto as he rejoined them, much more composed again, “I like her!” She looked around the shop. “We’ve done the kitchen and there doesn’t seem to be much to do here...”
“I’ll help Ianto if you want to get away early...” Tosh offered, sneaking a sideways glance at the Welshman in a silent message to stay quiet “we’re going to a junior officer’s meeting at Jack’s and I’m just waiting for Owen...” her face melted into a soppy smile “my fiancé...he’s the one who was barking like a dog yesterday! I’m sure Ianto can fill you in on that particular story...anyway, he’s meeting us here and then the three of us are going to Jack’s...”
“Well, if you’re sure...” Rhi looked at Ianto who smiled and nodded.
“I’d escape if I were you!” he hugged her quickly “see you both tomorrow...”
Calling cheery farewells, Rhi and Sue left and the door closed behind them. Ianto slumped heavily into a chair at the nearest table as Tosh looked on.
“Is Jack here?” she sat down next to him.
Ianto shook his head numbly, the effort of maintaining his control leaving him drained.
“Have you heard from him at all since last night?” her voice was soft and full of concern.
“No...” he reached into his pocket and pulled out the crumpled order pad “he...he...left me this...and I don’t know what to do, Tosh...he won’t answer his phone...or talk to me...” He broke down into giant sobs, covering his face with his hands...
“Oh, Ianto...” Tosh rubbed his back in a gesture of support “we’ll sort this out...” she stared at the note again “you know this isn’t really Jack, don’t you...”
“I...I...oh...I thought...it’s like he said he had two good weeks with John...” he broke off to drag his hanky out of his pocket and wipe his face “today is two weeks...so I thought...”
“I don’t think this has anything to do with Hart...ah, here’s Owen...” she let the medic in and kissed him briefly. “He’s in a bad way, Jack left him this and he hasn’t seen him since...”
Owen read the note “Fuck, Harkness! You certainly know how to screw things up!” He wound an arm around Tosh’s waist, squeezing gently as he steered them over to Ianto’s table. “Let’s go put this right, Toshi...”
Dropping into the chair next to the distressed Welshman and dragging it in close, Owen draped an arm around Ianto’s shoulders. “Listen, tea boy, Captain Jack Harkness can be a right prick at times, but he’s my best mate and I love him...and I’ve not seen him this happy in years than he’s been these past two weeks since he met you. It’s time we put that smile back on his face where it belongs...and yours too...
Now this has nothing to do with John bloody Hart and I don’t know how much Jack has told you about his past so I might be repeating stuff you already know...just say and I’ll move on...okay? Now, before I start I think we’d be better upstairs and you might want to get yourself a coffee so you’ve got something to wrap your hands around – don’t want you punching me if they’re flailing around!
Shall we?” he squeezed Ianto’s shoulder reassuringly and stood up, mentally cursing his friend for putting Ianto through this, even though he understood why... He sighed, why was everything so darned complicated? as he shook his head at the rhetorical question!
Ianto hauled himself to his feet and walked unsteadily to his coffee machine, finding temporary solace in the creation of familiar coffee perfection as he made a New York blend for Owen, a chocolate truffle one for Tosh and another @Yanno signature for himself, before leading the way up to his flat. He stood uncertainly in the doorway to the sitting room, the sight of Jack’s coat hanging in its usual place on the bookcase causing fresh tears to sting his eyes.
Tosh sat at one end of the sofa, tugging Ianto down next to her as she held on to his hand. Owen gave her a smile as he dragged the other sofa closer so they were almost touching. He sat on the end nearest Tosh and Ianto and leant forward. Ianto looked apprehensive and tightened his grip on Tosh’s hand, tucking his other hand under his thigh as he waited for Owen to start.
Owen took a breath in and curled his fingers around his coffee mug. “We have to go back nearly twenty years for the start to this saga. When Jack joined the fire service all those years ago he was taken under the wing of another firefighter called Andrew. Andrew was a few years older than Jack and they just clicked...friends who finished each other’s sentences and seemed to be able to read each other’s thoughts.
Jack was happy – in his work, in his family life with Doc and Rose, and now in the fire service and with his best friend. It was inevitable that they’d take it to the next level – everyone else saw it coming even if they didn’t! Jack used to say it took him totally by surprise how he felt the first time they kissed...” Owen paused to gaze searchingly at the pale face of the young Welshman who was drinking in every word. “You okay? I’m sorry if this is painful to hear...”
“If Jack’s loved someone else a long time ago, then it’s helped to shape who he is now...” Ianto’s voice hitched and he smothered a sob “...the man I love and I want him back...if this helps then, yes, I’m okay...” he bit his lip and blinked the tears back impatiently, nodding for the medic to continue.
“Most of the station was pleased for them, a few were indifferent, but it didn’t bother them. They continued to be best friends, but shared a deepening bond that quickly became love and they swapped eternity rings one moonlit night down by the bay, just the two of them – no such thing as civil partnerships back then.
It seemed that everything was perfect. Jack moved into Andrew’s house and they got on with life. One night we had a shout – a property fire, and it was going well. Initial reports said it was empty as the owners were on holiday abroad, but as the crews were running the hoses out, Andrew – he was a Leading Fireman by then...old name for Crew Managers...suddenly spotted a woman’s arm waving at a tiny upstairs window.
Him and Jack hurriedly put on breathing apparatus, grabbed a hose-reel and went in. Another team were getting ready to go in behind them and the Guv’nor had put in an assistance message for another pump as it was now a ‘persons reported’... They made their way up the stairs which were still viable, although the whole place was going up rapidly and it was full of thick black smoke so visibility was down to zero... They found the bedroom with the woman in it and she was screaming that her daughter was in the other room.
They dragged a blanket off the woman’s bed and emptied the water from a vase of flowers over it, wrapped it around the woman’s head and Andrew sent Jack off to lead her down the stairs while he went in for the daughter. Jack was almost at the front door when the gas main ruptured and exploded. The building imploded and the force knocked them off their feet as bricks and rubble rained down on them. It was only sheer luck that the back-up BA team were about to go in the front door so they saw them go down and were able to drag Jack and the woman out. They were both unconscious and the woman had a nasty head wound.
When Jack came round from the operation to pin his ankle, his first word was Andrew...
The woman – the owner’s sister who was house-sitting – survived; she had a fractured skull, a broken leg and lung damage from the smoke, but she did recover. Her little girl, Lola, was six. They found her and Andrew’s body just along from where the bedroom would’ve been if the building hadn’t collapsed.
Jack went to Lola’s funeral with the Guv’nor and read the Unknown Soldier’s poem at the service for Andrew...you know the Do not stand at my grave and weep, I am not there, I do not sleep... and he seemed to be coping although the light had gone from his eyes... He carried on, worked feverishly, didn’t socialise much any more, but grief is a funny thing and it hits people differently... The following summer he met Hart and in the beginning it was good to see Jack’s smile again...”
Ianto sat up “I know about Hart...Jack told me everything and I don’t want to hear it again...”he shivered, suddenly hearing the embittered words “when you’ve finished grieving for the second time...” echoing through his head. Now he knew what Hart had meant...
Owen looked somewhat relieved and nodded. “Now, today is the anniversary of Andrew’s death and I think this combined with the shout we had last night...a property fire and a woman and her five year old son were rescued last night, but both died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital... Now I’m no therapist, but I think the date, the shout and the near miss with Hart...” his voice trailed off, not needing to finish the sentence...
“What do I do? I want him back...”
Owen shifted across to kneel on the floor between Tosh and Ianto, “Now listen to me, Ianto Jones...“ he said gruffly “you’re the best thing that’s happened to Jack in a very, very long time and I know he loves you as much as you love him, so get your pretty little arse down to the cemetery – and yes, I know that’s where he’ll be, because that’s where he found me when our roles were reversed a few years later, after Katy died – and bring your Captain back into the living, because we love him too and he’s not going down that road again! You got that, tea boy!” Owen’s voice cracked at the end of his impassioned speech and he fell into Tosh’s arms, tears streaming down both their faces.
Ianto leant forward and hugged them as they held each other. “Thank you...” he whispered hoarsely as he stood up, his face white, but set and determined. He grabbed Jack’s coat, tugged his car keys off the hook in the hall and thudded down the stairs, the outer door banging shut moments later. He jumped into his car and started the engine as a sudden thought occurred to him and he turned it off again, climbed out and walked briskly to the parade of shops around the corner.
His purchase made, he returned to the car and drove swiftly to the cemetery, parking next to the SUV in the almost empty car park. He slid out of the car and put Jack’s coat on, the heavy wool and reassuring scent of the man he loved bringing a sense of calm. He picked up his flowers and tried to remember Owen’s directions to Andrew’s grave.
With only one wrong turn, he saw the top of Jack’s head through the trees up ahead as the Captain sat in front of the weather-worn headstone, tracing his fingers over the letters. As he moved closer Ianto realised Jack was talking, sobbing, his words interspersed with hiccoughs and gasps that resonated with raw anguish “...but I love him so much and I’m so scared I’m going to lose him like I lost you...I can’t lose him Andy...he makes me feel alive like I’ve never felt before...” he broke off to take heaving breaths before continuing his one-sided conversation “what do I do? What if he won’t have me back...I’ve hurt him...put him through so much already...tell me what to do...” his tone was desperate, that of a broken man and Ianto could stand it no longer, tears streaming down his own face as he watched and listened...
He stepped quietly through the trees to move behind Andrew’s grave. “Jack...cariad...”
Jack froze before looking up, his puffy, red-rimmed eyes locking onto Ianto’s as his mouth opened but nothing came out. Ianto stepped closer and crouched down. “I bought these...” his voice trembled, but he carried on, their gazes still fixed on each other as he held out the three roses one at a time. “Yellow...a promise of new beginnings and a pledge to remember you always...that’s for both of you...”
Fresh tears spilled down Jack’s face as he took the yellow rose and laid it gently alongside the white carnations he’d bought with him earlier, turning his eyes back to the Welshman immediately. “White for purity and peace, and red to say I love you...” he held them just out of reach, one in each hand, bringing them together slowly as Jack watched every movement. “Together they signify unity...that’s us Jack...you and me...as one...” Jack took them from Ianto’s joined hands, wrapping his fingers around the Welshman’s to draw them up to his mouth where he pressed cold lips to Ianto’s knuckles, the frozen touch sending that wonderfully familiar electric charge zipping through their bodies.
Pulling his hands away gently, Ianto knelt down properly and opened his arms “And this coat’s awfully lonely without you in it with me...come home with me Jack...please...I ca...” He didn’t finish as he suddenly had an armful of ice cold Captain, their lips crashing together as they kissed hungrily, hands clawing desperately as they pressed closer still...
They came up for air, clinging to each other, tears still coursing down their faces. Still entangled, they got to their feet. Ianto stood with his head bowed as he recited softly “Do not stand at my grave and cry, I am not there, I did not die...” He turned to cup his Captain’s face “I love you Jack...and I think Andrew would be happy for you...you belong with the living...with me...”
With the coat draped around them both, they made their way slowly back to their cars...
continued in chapter 24 zazajb.dreamwidth.org/51736.html#cutid1